HC Deb 12 June 1997 vol 295 c1274
9. Mr. Purchase

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received about his proposed reforms to City regulation. [1594]

Mr. Darling

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor's announcement regarding reforming the regulatory system has been widely welcomed. It was the result of some four years' work and wide consultation. I am pleased to report that work is well in hand to take the Government's plans forward.

Mr. Purchase

Does my right hon. Friend agree that we should condemn the previous dilatory authority that allowed Andrew Regan to be considered a fit person to run a bank, when only a few days later he was condemned by a High Court judge as being unfit and "clearly dishonest" in his dealings with the Co-operative Wholesale Society? Does my right hon. Friend further agree that it is time that there was a new authority that will ensure that people who want to run their businesses properly and decently can do so free from the influence of crooks?

Mr. Darling

My hon. Friend will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the case of Andrew Regan, as I believe that it is now sub judice. On his general point, for many years there has been concern that the regulatory system has not been capable of cleaning up those parts of the industry that needed to be cleaned up. People who were guilty of quite serious misdemeanours—which reflected badly on the industry as a whole—were not properly dealt with.

Part of the objective in streamlining the structure and the nature of the regulatory system is to ensure that, where there are problems—for example, insider dealing—they can be dealt with quickly and effectively. That is why our proposals have been widely welcomed. For years, people could not understand why the Conservative Government would not act to clean up the City. The vast majority of people in the City are honest and their integrity is beyond reproach. It was they, as much as anyone else, who wanted action to be taken. Once again, this is an example of the Labour Government acting in an area where the Conservative Government did nothing for 18 years.